Sunday, December 28, 2014

Racism, Part 5: ...more solutions

Racism is everywhere, it is historical, structural, implicit, explicit, assumed and projected.

White people and black people have their roles to play to solve our black/white problem. I am focusing on black vs. white because I think the relationship is unique and a great starting place to  shift our consciousness about racism in general.

The white/black relationship is historical and ugly. I see the relationship as abusive and co-dependent, resulting in identity crisis for individuals as well as our nation as a whole.

Now is the time to free ourselves from this snare of our history, change our actions and move forward toward an even more perfect union.


Solutions


Recognition 

 

We need to stand on the cliff of remembering and reflection and muster up the courage to jump. I promise, we will land and be able to see more clearly for it. 

 

Recognize the brutal ways that black Americans have been treated; from slavery to lynchings, hostile antagonizations, openly derogatory remarks, hazing of our friends and family members to join in the hate and hate crimes of prejudice, institutional lockout and erasure of black American history from our school books and national life.

...through: education- making a national effort through school and media to explore the true contributions and trials of black Americans to the USA, and insuring that ALL schools receive equal funding for their children; also reparations, just as other members of our citizenry have been granted. My idea for reparations is land grants, funding for community building and community organization training, capital programs for business start-ups for those with solid business plans, and education grants.Reparations would go to those who can prove that their heritage is a certain percentage of slave descent.

National Celebrations of Diversity 

 

Our nation is build on the ideals of equality, justice and liberty for ALL humans. It started with men and others have fought for their rights along our short 200 year journey to what we have in the USA today...not perfect, but certainly more perfect than where we started not too long ago. We can still be a light for the world, if we live up to the challenge.


What holidays are truly meaningful to US citizens, and grounded in truth? The only one I can think of is Independence Day. Though, if we do not have a common idea of what it means to be a US citizen, how can we even properly celebrate Independence day?

 (edit in MLK Day. Obama asked US citizens to make this day a day of service. It is a great American holiday, one on which we can reflect on our journey as Americans, and celebrate the value of diversity, in MLK's name)

Our country is young, and it is time to actively build on the vision of our founding fathers to create a country where people are free to choose their paths. A country where the people treat each other with respect, dignity and civility as we travel our separate paths together under a flag of freedom

 

When our country started, not too long ago, the path to freedom for women and non whites was blocked. The USA still has ghosts in the closet, but it is time to let go of those ghosts. It is time for the us to reflect on who we are, our assets and what we want to build together. 

 

Diversity certainly is, and has been, our greatest asset, along with tolerance, and triumph of people of good character fighting and winning steps toward justice for all. So where are our national holidays enshrining these truths, values, and accomplishments? We need national recognition and celebration of our true history that takes us along the path worn by people of good character toward freedom for all. 

 

If you could create a USA holiday, what would it be? Mine would be National Cake Day. A day where every community has a contest to see who can create a delicious cake that represents the most elements of our nation's diverse cultures. Of course, the day would be full of food stands and music that also celebrate the diversity of our nation. Local winners would move to regional, state and national competitions. Yum.

 

More solutions can be found in earlier posts in this series, but the most important step we can take as a nation, is to not fear looking ourselves in the mirror, and going through the old trunks that will reveal our true past. 

 

It feels scary, like jumping off a cliff, but there is no cliff, just a fog of ghosts and blinding humility. Once we make the courageous choice to take a good look at ourselves, we will better understand who we are and where we are going. 

 


Make a great day!

Kathryn

 

 

 

 



Monday, December 22, 2014

Racism, Part 4: Why I'm Giving Up White Guilt

Without going down the rabbit hole of the psychology of guilt, let me say that I am giving up guilt for my own good, and for yours.

(the rabbit hole: step, step, step, step, step, step, step,)

Giving up guilt is a way to empower myself and others. It is drawing the lines around what is mine and what is not mine. Drawing lines works as well in a personal relationship as it does in matters of culture, community, and racism.

As in all relationships guilt has a mirror function and a feedback loop.

"Guilt is...an extremely powerful tool which can be used to manipulate someone’s behavior, and is something that is strongly interlinked with the need for external approval."


Racism and White Guilt

First, in the case of racism (the distorted distribution of power, opportunity, education, wealth and resources toward some racial group) it is important for me, as a white person, to recognize that there is a reason to have guilt.

The first challenge is to recognize the guilt at all, then to identify why I have the guilt. Once I identify why, I understand better who I am, where my feelings are coming from and what I can do to change actions that make me feel guilty, thus letting go of my guilt. The result is empowerment, for me and for anyone else caught in my dance of guilt.

Having awareness of how one effects others, and employing a sense of empathy can bring about understanding. A common understanding about power distribution, justice, history, and responsibility, is definitely what we need to address feelings of white guilt in the US.

Psychology Today explains the good and bad side of Guilt,

"Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze––or catalyze one into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one's failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression."

Guilt is a response to disapproval, from oneself, or from others: we learn what to feel guilty about by the norms set by our environment.

White guilt may effect different people in different ways depending on ones experience. A person may feel guilty because they are: raised racist, deliberately acting racist, thinking they might have acted racist, or even because they are simply aware of racism.

Maybe there is such a thing as black guilt...not being 'black enough' not wanting to accuse white people, even though one feels harmed...I dont know.

Without awareness, there is ignorance, and denial. Denial may make one act indignantly or angrily, or project distorted emotions, at someone or something that reminds them of their guilt.

Defining ones boundaries can help anchor ones identity, help one own the responsibility that is theirs, and direct people back to their own rightful boundaries. Identifying ones own boundaries reduces the criticism one accepts from outside sources and compels us to analyze our behavior against our own, or sacred, values.

Let's face it, there is a distinct dysfunctional relationship between black America and white America. It is an old relationship with much history. A history (which lives on in some families/communities) where 'white people' are guilty, and in denial; and a present where some or many people feel guilty, but have done nothing explicitly wrong.

Some project that denial in deliberate and sometimes angry accusations; rigid authoritarianism (forceful ignorance and unwillingness to change); constant second guessing, or anxiety; or acting as a rescuer, which may lead one to become a victim or abuser.

In my case, I felt guilt because I was aware of cultural racism. I have experienced people in my area being racist. Adding to this layer of awareness, I am also aware that the demographics of my area are changing to include a greater number of non-white citizens. I have already seen how non-white people in rural PA are treated by individuals, by the school and police system, and even by the community municipalities in community planning.

I often become paralyzed with guilt, making my presence an uncomfortable one, and quite often overcompensate by making eye contact and smiling at non-white persons, or by engaging them in conversation, almost always hinting at how uncomfortable it must be to live in such a white, intolerant, area.

My guilt was making other people the victim. Whether the person I encountered felt like a victim or not, once they met with me, they probably did.This is a part of the process of the convoluted guilt feedback loop. In fact, I was creating the environment for an abusive relationship by creating a victim, acting as the rescuer, and in the end, committing a racist act as an abuser.

What was even more disturbing about my realization that my white guilt was causing me to be racist was why I was acting that way. In fact, because I felt the other the victim, it gave me power.

I have always been concerned about racism, because it is wrong, unjust and hurts people, but the way I went about trying to address it- by approaching and talking to black people about racism, was a projection of my guilt, which resulted in a racist act

What else, but power, could make me believe that I can; invade someones space, even from far away, as soon as I think I see a non-white person; engage that person in a personal way, basically invading now, their personal space; expect them to accept my intrusion; expect them to see me as a nice, helpful person; expect them to befriend me and share their most personal feelings.

Not only was my approach disrespectful, it was ignorant- a clear sign that I had issues. Why was I approaching non-white people about racism, when it is white people's racism that I am so worried about? Wouldn't it be more sane to talk to white people about it?

I wanted something from the non-white person I engaged with about racism- I wanted forgiveness.

Indeed, going through the process of recognizing my guilt, and the role my guilt plays in the wider societal horror of cultural racism empowered me. It helped me see that I was projecting victimhood on non-white people, forcing them into a role where I could play rescuer, so that I could feel better about myself.

My attempts to address racism this way were futile. Non-whites did not want to engage with me in this manner, and their rejection caused me to feel even more guilty, and clueless.

Recognizing and analyzing my guilt has allowed me to face what I was hiding from- white people's racism. Getting to know my white guilt has empowered me to face my white peers and engage them in discussions about race.

I am lifting my soul off of non-white people I encounter, seeing them not as victims, but as whole, empowered humans who are capable of leading their own battles without me. Instead of taking their power from them as a source of consolation for me, my goal is to keep my gut empowered and in its place, while acknowledging the power in others.

It is not OK or healthy to take up the sword for someone else when the very act dis-empowers them, and creates a cycle of dominance and dependency.

It is always more effective for people to stand up for themselves, to fight for their own dignity- even though, as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, we need to support each other in our journey toward a more perfect union, where justice prevails equally for all.

I drew the lines: this is mine/this is yours, and those lines reorder power relations between me and non-white people. Me letting up on their space allows them the freedom to be without me acting as an oppressive power figure, and it allows me to be free to focus on and try to 'fix' what is really mine- the legacy of white supremacy in my own world.

Make a great day!
-Kathryn

Next time... the value of leadership 

More food for thought on white guilt. 










Sunday, December 14, 2014

Racism, Part 3: False Racism

Uncomfortableness

You know that feeling when you walk down the street and see someone that is not like you, and you get a little uncomfortable? ...this is the origin of what I call False Racism. 
 
I am white, and I live in a pretty white area, but demographics are changing, especially in the closest town, where I use community services like the Y and the library.

When I go through the grocery, or walk down the street and see a non white person, I get uncomfortable sometimes because I am affected by white guilt (the overwhelming feeling that people who are different, especially people with different complexions, are treated badly). Now, white guilt is a function of white supremacy, as I stated in an earlier post.

It is not just white guilt though. It could be a disabled person, an old person with Kyphosis, a very large person or just any very different person.

Uncomfortableness is a natural reaction to me trying to fit this experience into my neural-networks. It is me trying to place my identity in reference or relevance to this new experience. I am not sure how I will do this, until...

I make eye contact. I smile.

Then the situation is usually diffused and I feel accepted, the same, good humans...able to engage in whatever situation may come up, even if it is just, "Hi! How's it goin'"

And then, what happens if the 'other' person is feeling uncertain too (or just having a bad day and has a sour face)? I look at them uncertain, they look at me uncertain, one or each may become paralyzed with fear, or mistake the uncomfortableness of uncertainty (or general state of unhappiness) with indignation...no smiles...we project and take the other persons feelings as a validation of our fears...and then we react with hate or indignation or offense.

Still, the people may be sharing the same feelings, but misconstrued. They feel like they are being judged. Bad human feelings that lead to misunderstanding, fear, hate and at the extreme-violence.

One facet of racism is just one big messy downward spiral of societal projection.

This is not racism...this is natural human behavior that can be conquered with a sense of respect and civility and community. See my post on The Process of Liberty.

We are naturally biased toward what we know, what we think is normal, or what we feel more comfortable with. This starts at birth, and continues through our journey to 'find ourselves' and 'our place in the world.'

'Finding our place' happens on a personal level, with ourselves- with our family- our community- and our national identities. It is a source of much conflict in each of those areas, from schizophrenia to civil war.

Read this article from Parent Map, it explains much. 

This is why I think it is really important for a place like the US, with so much diversity, to recognize our multiracial heritage and to have national celebrations around our real heritage- so that we can make those neural-connections and place ourselves comfortably in reference to all the 'others' who are our neighbors...so that we may have a national identity.

Having a cohesive, healthy national identity can help solve issues from schizophrenia to civil war.

Characterization

Humans characterize what we don't know for the same 'identifying' reasons...to make some sort of sense out of things we don't understand...the Black witch doctor from the swamps, the cowboy, the mystic Arabian, or the terrorist Palestinian, or the snobby Britt, whatever... deep sea creatures and aliens... things we do not have personal experience with, we try to characterize to fit into some frame of reference for ourselves.

Sometimes characterizations are bad and sometimes they are good. After WWII, much of the world had a good characterization of the USA; or bad, like media portrayal of black people as violent criminals, gang members and drug dealers.

Characterization most often paints an inaccurate picture, but becomes a conditioning of our neural networks, even though the relation is wrong. This may be called implicit bias and may lead to explicit bias. For instance, seeing black people as criminals on TV can make one bias against black people, and fear them, subconsciously; or a person can take this cultural characterization as fact and consciously report their bias explicitly.

I would qualify that implicit and explicit beliefs can be true, but the word bias, refers to an unreasoned, skewed, or unfair judgment.
 
These False Assumptions of the 'other' are what I am calling False Racism...and should be able to be 'fixed' by proper recognition through history education, cultural intelligence, and a general sense of respect and civility in society.

These misunderstandings are internalized in our culture, and then acted out as if spokes of reality, when, in fact, we are creating problems by projecting a false reality. Per the examples above about the characterization of the USA after WWII and the characterization of Black Americans now through media...many in the USA internalized that good characterization and took that on as an identity, just as many Black Americans may internalize the images they see and take those false images on as an identity...thus perpetuating the false images.

This is why lying is bad people! And why being able to discern fact from fiction is really important (it is sad that at this time in history, these points are particularly poignant).

In a diverse society, such as our own, let us seek true understanding of each other through quality relationships, proper recognition, respect, and civility. It can heal our us as individuals and as a nation.

Make a great day!
-Kathryn

Next time...Why I'm Giving Up White Guilt.

I am linking Jesse Jacksons 1997 interview with Frontline on this post as well, in case you missed it. The interview has a perspective on black american culture that was new to me, and touches on constructing identity.

How misinformation creates false memories





Thursday, December 11, 2014

Racism, Part 2: Deconstructing White Supremacy




Racism is everywhere.

In Part 1 of this series, I said that different places are different. My step dad conformed to a racist culture when we moved from southern CA to central PA, but where I lived in CA was not the most diverse place either, and I distinctly remember there being skinheads around.

I found this article from 2013 chronicling the rise of the white supremacy movement 'down the hill' from the mountain top I grew up on. Here is an excerpt:
"...the number of militia or patriot groups are an indicator for other extreme groups such as neo-Nazis. He reports that militia groups peaked in the mid-'90s with 858 groups and then plunged. By the millennium, there were 150 such groups. That number stayed the same through 2008. Then it rocketed from 149 to 1,274 in three years."
The author if this piece, which is part of a series chronicling the rise of white supremacist groups in southern CA, got an interview with a member of a white racist gang. Why the rise in hate groups, the author asks,

"Very clearly," he says, "the main driver of the growth of these groups is the changing demographics of the United States as personified by a black guy in the White House."

So, there you have it...very clearly.

Also, of note in this article, is the naming of hotspots of white hate groups in the country:  Idaho's northern panhandle, northwest Arkansas, southeast Missouri, southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina.

Racism is hard to talk about and hard to deconstruct. There are many 'ways' leading to racist acts.

The most fertile source is:

White Supremacy

I break this category up into four outcomes that were birthed from the historical idea that white people are better, smarter, cleaner, handier, holier etc. We are caught in the snares of this history, and I have found four distinct outcomes of it:

1.) Continued deliberate belief that white people really are better.  
a. example above- the skinheads, kkk etc.
b. this can be replicated in offspring, and whether or not the offspring believe in white supremacy or not they will be subject to the ghost in the nursery. People who do not want to be racist, may simply be as part of a deep grove that was worn in them by experiencing racist patterns over and over from their parents/family/community.

There is a choice- stop the pattern or continue the pattern. If the pattern is recognized, one can seek help to stop the pattern, lest one ends up actually repeating the words/actions of their parents out of HABIT. What a failure of conscience that would be.

2.) Institutionalized racism, or white privilege
A most stubborn specter of white supremacy in history, and especially in politics (the power to distribute wealth and resources), is institutionalized racism or white privilege.The accumulation of millennia of acts to keep power in white hands, even to the point of inviting and dis-inviting people with non white complexions to be 'part of the club' at different times in history depending on potential benefits to those in power.

It may seem strange to people in the USA now, who have grown up with a sense of democracy and the ringing words of 'equality' and 'justice,' but democracy, equality and justice for the people is historically a rare thing. Nations are new, and the ability of people to hold power instead of the wealthy or elite is...dubious...even for the US. "Constant vigilance!" is the only way, and we have not proven we can do that...even men, or white people, or anyone who is not placed in powerful positions politically.

Now, white friends, if these ideals of freedom, equality and justice are dubious for you, what of those who came to the US as slaves?

I am happy to have come across the organization, The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and their program for Undoing Racism (TM). Their principles teach the history of how, where and why institutional racism and white privilege came to be. Knowledge is 90% of the battle, just recognizing that these forms of racism exist is, in the words of some participants, 'shocking' and 'life changing'; and in the words of one cop who took the program, potentially life saving. 

3. White Guilt
My second epiphany on race was that I have committed acts of racism because of white guilt. I was on the diversity committee in college. It was a pretty pathetic committee anyway- basically a room full of people epitomizing the power relations on campus, the only rule being, the leader could not be a white male. Our greatest accomplishment was an anonymous survey on how 'comfortable' people felt on campus...and we had to bribe people to 'voluntarily' take the survey with prizes...

In any case, I approached the Black Student Association to see if they wanted to have a panel discussion on racism. They were not interested. They pretty much just looked at me funny and ignored me. I did talk to some random other people in the lobbies and halls on campus, but I didn't approach any organization, like the Ag Club, or Student Union or Democrat or Republican clubs...no, just the Black Student Association. Looking back, I feel ashamed that I felt so comfortable going to a club that is definitely not for me and asking them to let me in and tell me all about them...all their secrets and handshakes. I would never do that to any other club, or any other group of people.


Why do I keep trying to talk to black people about racism? They are not racist! ...ah, that brings us to my first epiphany on racism lately...I should be talking to white people about racism, cause...I'm white and problem is that white people are racist.

I was seeking comfort, forgiveness, because I felt guilty. Gah! There are few moments in life when one wants to hide under a rock in humility, but, yeah, when I realized this, that is what I felt like...I still kind of do, but more on that in the next post.

4. White Ignorance
White ignorance is denying all of the above things to remain comfortable and avoid the 'I am so ashamed I feel like hiding under a rock' feeling. 
 
I also found this interview with Jesse Jackson very enlightening, because he talks about black American culture in ways I did not know, explaining where the sagging pants and unlaced shoes come from; how black communities are kept at the margins of society by design and really kept out. A quote from The People's Institute brought this home for me: "People of color have been historically locked out of participating in key community institutions, leading to dependency, instead of empowerment."

Make a great day!
Kathryn

Next time: Why I'm Giving Up White Guilt and other solutions. 




Monday, December 8, 2014

What This White Girl Has Learned About Racism Part 1

Injustice has always bothered me. 

Call it Jesus, or my grandma's switch, but from an early age I was taught that justice should always prevail...that where there is injustice there is no love, and a place without love is where the darkness starts.

I was taught that love is not mine, it is G-ds, and it comes through me.  Do I want to be a place where the darkness enters this world? Will I stand by and watch it enter this world?

Not with my grandma and a good tree branch around.

You should all thank my grandma right now, her name is Golda, she's in heaven.

Different areas are different.

I grew up in Southern California, in Crestline. Not the most diverse place, but not central Pennsylvania, where I live now. My mom moved us here when I was 10, with my step dad, who grew up here.

My step dad was a different man in CA than he was in PA, I mean really different. In CA my step dad talked like a Californian, you know, normal; he was a gymnast; we had crazy, diverse hippie friends- it was a different place. I don't remember him ever saying anything racist.

When we moved to PA, he started talking differently, like, you know, some might say, like a hick. The first thing I remember was him scolding us and jokingly saying he was gonna "fro us in the ficket," as in down in the ditch. He was a hunter, which I appreciate now- but I didn't talk to him for a week the first time I saw a dead deer strung up on the peach tree in the yard. Our family friends were fun, but distinctly conservative.

Many years passed before I heard him say something racist. I checked him, and he said, "I'm not racist."
My little brother and sister grew up hearing him talk more like a Pennsylvanian that a Californian.

My dad has a really good heart, I think. He loves nature and family, but he grew up in a hard family, and a racist area...which he conformed to when we moved back to his hometown.

I have kids now, 2 and 4, and they have only met him twice. 

In School

Moving to PA was a culture shock. People went to school in pantyhose and skirts, or dockers and tucked in dress shirts, I mean, everyone tucked their shirts in. This was the 80's, I had rainbow stonewashed jeans with tears in the knees. I was different, that was bad, but I wasn't as bad as ugly people, or fat people, or black people, or brown people.

I remember, in high school, a black girl (I can't remember more than 3 black kids in our school of about 800) getting jumped in gym class by three other girls. The three girls who attacked her were bullies to everyone. One girl jumped on her as if on a piggy back ride, while the other two grabbed her at the sides, pulling her hair and screaming racist remarks. They got from the halfline to the baseline before the teacher stepped in to help. Once, a boy moved to our district from Africa, he was beaten after school, and everyone blamed the victim. His family moved back out of our small town. This was the late 1990's.

In college, my history teacher was racist (he was a bully too, in every way). He always yelled at the black kids in class to stop talking...even though they were not talking. I said something every time, but the teacher ignored and the kids moved farther and farther to the back. One day we covered 'The White Man's Burden' and on the next page was, 'The Black Man's Burden.' We skipped the latter. I spoke up, "What about the Black Man's Burden?" I asked. What about it, he said. We skipped it, I said.

He belted, "YOU THINK THAT WE DID SOMETHING WRONG?!!!"
                 "YOU THINK THE USA DID SOMETHING WRONG?!!!"
                
"I don't know what the page will say, we skipped it." I said. Really, compared to a good switch, this mans bellows were nothing.

"NAME ONE THING THE USA HAS DONE WRONG!"

The Iraq war for one. How bout slavery?

This was 2005. Our cafeteria was self segregated at this campus.

Standing up for what is right

Like I suggest, maybe it was my grandma's switch, or maybe it is just my reverence for Jesus, but I don't think it is hard to stand up for what is right. Speaking up has never been hard for me. Then, I like talking...very much. I find being scared a challenge, and I like to face my fears.

But, what is so hard or scary about saying, "Hey! Stop that!"

Is it easier or more secure to live in an unjust world?

No, it isn't.

I've spoken up, I've been on diversity committees, I've sung songs and screamed in crowded cafeterias to address racism and other injustices...but my efforts have been somewhere between futile and crazy because...

No one can fight for another if the one being wronged does not fight for themselves; and it seems impossible for one voice to change a system, though, as I quoted in another post,

"Just because it seems impossible, does not mean it is."


I am happy and thankful that the black community of Ferguson took up a civil rights battle, and that it sparked a worldwide movement.

May the movement not be co-opted by any other issue or goal besides addressing racism.

Addressing racism will change police culture, will deligitimize the new right, will invigorate public virtue and the US ideal of justice and equality. But just focusing on the police or any larger social justice movement will probably not effectively address racism.

Next: Part 2: My Hypothesis on why there is racism as I've experienced it, and new action steps.





Saturday, December 6, 2014

Police, Racism, and the Role of Community.

Only two months after being appointed the Acting Police Chief of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Brad Hare shot a man.

He was called to a scene where 22 yr. old, Erick Trometter, had allegedly beat his 67 year old grandmother by hitting and kicking her in the face. Trometter had been jailed two years earlier for a similar incident, stabbing his grandmother in the back with a spoon for not making him lunch.

The officer approached the young man, who was walking away from his grandma's house on a rural road in the northwest corner of the city.

According to Officer Hare, Trometter had a large knife, and approached the officer with it. Chief Hare pulled his taser on the suspect, but the man would not go down. Hare tried tasing the man twice more before shooting him once in the abdomen. Trometter was hospitalized in critical condition, but has since been released.

Trometter is white. He is from a very white community, but the demographics are changing.

Sunbury changed from 95.26% white in 2000 to 88.6% white in 2010. The decrease in the white population is just about equal to the percentage of people who moved out of the area in that decade. Sunbury's total population change from 2000-2010 was negative 6.6%.

The highest demographic increase was in Hispanic populations, which increased almost 4 points points from 3.09 to 6.7%, due mostly to migrant agricultural workers who stayed in the area. The black population increased about 1% from 2.3 to 3.4 percent of the population.

Crime has increased. Officer Hare does not blame race for the increase in crime. He blames poverty.

Dianna Dunn, of Undoing Racism-The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, agrees. She says people of color have been historically locked out of participating in key community institutions, leading to dependency, instead of empowerment.

She explained that racism is not as much about oppressing some people as it is about favoring others. The police department ends up dealing with problems that result from community institutions, like schools, and workplaces, failing individuals, Dunn says.

For the city of Sunbury the rise in a spanish speaking population was difficult for years, because there was no one in the community that spoke spanish to act as an interpreter when problems arose. Workers travel to Sunbury for agricultural work, and when the season is over, they stay. The city now has access to one interpreter, but he is not always available, says Chief Hare.

The People's Institute has been undoing racism with anti-racism training for 34 years. They are lauded for having the most effective anti-racist analysis. A main focus of The People's Institute training is teaching a history that is not provided in our schools.
"If we take away knowledge about how racism was formed, we cannot undo it," says Dunn.
Training also focuses on power relationships and empowering communities. Dunn says training sessions require many stakeholders in the community to go through the training together, including police, schools, community organizations, and community representatives.

Pennsylvania, the state Officer hare serves, has come under fire for being a racist region. The late Representative John Murtha of PA famously announced that he represented a racist area during the 2008 presidential campaign. Pennsylvania is ranked number 15 on the Top Ten's list of racist states, and an investigative report was released earlier this year calling racism in central PA school sports, Unchecked, Unchallenged and Unabashed.

"Is there racism in Sunbury?" I asked Officer Hare.
"Racism is everywhere," he said,"it will probably never go away. It is hard to control and a shame."
There may always be bigotry and hatred, says Dunn, but that is not how The People's Institute defines racism. She and her organization look for equity in institutions, a situation where institutional outcomes cannot be determined by race. In order to undo racism, Dunn says, institutions must empower people to change their situations by having meaningful, directing roles in the institutions that frame their community.

Officer Hare says that he would be interested in a program such as Dunn's to address racism in his community.
"People live in a bubble," Hare says, "and it is my job to make sure that that bubble stays intact, it is my job to maintain civility."
He says that the cops see the dark side of community and it is rude, edgy and unprofessional. His job is to make sure the citizens don't see that side. "The 21st century isn't so nice. If I can't keep that bubble intact, it's chaos."

In the shadow of the Michael Brown case

 

Officer Hare believes that he is as comfortable facing a black man as a white man in a tense situation. He says he is comfortable with Sunbury's changing demographics because his family is multi-cultural. He feels that diversity in his community will benefit the younger generation.

He doesn't like people playing the 'race card.' "It's a job,' he said, "and we are there because we were called."

His department doesn't receive diversity training, but officers have required annual training from MPOETC, a municipal police training center.

Chief Hare confirmed that training includes reinforcement and practice of using deadly force as a last option. Officers are not supposed to discharge their weapon unless they fear 'imminent danger or death.' "It always comes down to your own judgement," said Hare.

Hare will go to trial for shooting Trometter, but is not at liberty to talk about it.

A police chief from Deluth, Minnesota, went through the Undoing Racism training and commented that the program is, "as important for police to learn as CPR."
"If CPR can save lives, so can this program," says Dunn.
Hare said that apart from funding, which is leaving his department understaffed, he is grateful to have strong support from his community. "Things changed after 9-11, people started to respect cops more. People started coming up to us and saying, thank you. It is still a little shocking."

Hare blames news and social media for eroding respect for the police. "Media over sensitizes people, exaggerating bits and pieces of negative events without context." He said. The best thing the people can do for the police is to be aware of their environment, says Hare.
"If you think something is wrong, don't be afraid to call us."
Individuals are not as much to blame for inequity as the systems we are brought up in, says Dunn, who has been working in her field for almost 40 years. She says, Philip Zimbardo, a renown social psychologist who has written and spoken extensively about how good people can be led into evil actions has a great message for US society:
"Focusing on people as causes of evil then exonerates social structures and political decision making for contributing to underlying conditions that foster evil: poverty, racism, sexism and elitism."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What Could Have Been - What Can Be

Republicans have a majority in the House and Senate now. I am glad. I am hopeful that a Republican controlled congress can get things moving again...

BUT, but, but...why haven't they been moving? We missed some golden opportunities to grow as a country after the Bush years and the financial collapse...

What Could Have Been

STRONGER COMMUNITY

 When President Obama was elected, I thought the first thing he would say was,
"I'm a community organizer at heart, and I know that we can get through this together by helping each other in our own communities. Remember the March of Dimes! A little help from every one is all we ever need to make it through. We have gotten through times like this before, and we do it together, person by person, community by community, state by state, until, at last, our Nation is back on its feet once again!"

Instead he said,
 "In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.
It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.
Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."
The first quote would have not only inspired the nation to act, but would have given us a great bridge between the "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!" conservatives and the "We must ensure food, shelter and health for all our fellow citizens!" 'liberals.'

Ah! That would have been a great message.

SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE

Then, on the conservative side with healthcare...the individual mandate can be traced all the way back to 1989 in connection with the conservative Heritage Foundation. The individual mandate lines up with conservative rhetoric that everyone should be responsible for themselves and their own healthcare.

Obama compromised his original single payer idea to death, and Obamacare is what we got.

Not only do I not understand why Repubs were against their own ideas of an individual mandate, which they have spent ridiculous amounts of time and money fighting...

But...why wouldn't Republicans support single payer healthcare to begin with? In fact, Republicans have supported it before (click here for another Republican doctor for single payer.) The main reason I can think of for republican support, quoted by Republican Jack Lohman, is to...
 "get health care off the backs of corporations so they can be more competitive with products made overseas.”
Duh! Right? or Left? Hey, we shoulda coulda come together on this.

Think of how much money you pay every month for health insurance through your employer. Your employer pays that much too...for every employee. It's nuts. It inhibits business growth and profits.

REPEAL OF THE PATRIOT ACT

Obama could have vetoed the Patriot Act, and done away with the NSA and homeland security.  I mean, don't we already have the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA? Doesn't congress have committees for stuff like this? I don't care which ones we cut, but we don't need all these spying orgs.

Dems should have done away with these agencies, created or expanded under the mischievous Bush admin, because of civil rights violations, and Repubs should have wanted to to shrink gov't and stay true to the Bill of Rights. But, no. Obama extended the act for 4 more years, and Repubs relied on extending it to show their strong stance on anti-terrorism.

Why the hell do they call it the 'patriot' act anyway? The whole thing pisses me off to no end.

You know who else it pisses off? *Some* of The Tea Party.

Just imagine a USA, inspired by intrepid leaders to build community together with a reinvigorated sense of  citizenship and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps' can-do attitude. Imagine healthcare for everyone without fines or haggling with insurance companies.

Imagine a citizenry versed on the constitution and filled with pride because they did their part to uphold it- the sense of valor and Americanism that would have gushed after the repeal of the Patriot Act!

Ah! That's nice.

It coulda happened. 

What Can Be

ACTION IN CONGRESS

Here we are again, a fresh new start, a new day! More Tea Party candidates elected to congress and a 'lame duck' session for the Pres.  Now, Obama's term will soon end, but he is far from powerless or needing help. In fact, he has had so little help throughout his Presidency, he is probably all practiced up on governing solo.

Like I said, I am glad Repubs have control of congress. They really should not be able to blame the Pres as much.

They can fully utilize their 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' mentality and try to make something good out of this opportunity.


REPEAL THE PATRIOT ACT and DEFUND NSA SPYING

First, let us, instead of repealing Obamacare, repeal The Patriot Act; instead of defunding Obamacare, let us defund spying on Americans at the NSA.


TORT REFORM

If we are gonna haggle about healthcare, let us start somewhere easy and impactful- Tort Reform.

If we're really lucky, we will somehow get single payer.


STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY

To shrink government and give some relief to local government agencies and municipalities, why not start a campaign championing the role of the citizen? Common good and self-sufficiency starts at home. I think both sides of the aisle can agree on this.

Not only will a campaign for citizen involvement- like taking care of your older neighbors, keeping up parks and streets, feeding our hungry and helping our homeless with jobs, skills and support- take a load off gov't, it will put the people in touch with their leaders, and help to dilute the influence of big business and corporations in policy making.

We can still have an invigorated USA, inspired by intrepid leaders, and held up by active citizens. It will take more than imagination, it will take good 'ol brave American leadership. 

The ball is in your court Republicans, Tea Party. Let's see some good action! 


Make a great day!
-Kathryn  


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Sunday, October 26, 2014

So, you're not voting: Voting and Civil Disobedience cont.



So, you're not voting.

You don't think your vote will matter.
You don't trust government.
Picking the lesser of two evils is still evil.
You don't like either candidate.
You are an Independent, not a R or a D.


What are you waiting for?

You will leave it to the majority?
Others to "remedy the evil"?
Are you "content to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it?"

If you think you are being cheated out of your vote,
are you content to simply say so, and do nothing?

You are not going to vote for anyone?

"How far can private feelings go without affecting public good?"

Voting is a right. It is a vital tool for the people, not a demand from the government.  In fact, some self-interested faction will be more than happy that you don't vote, it gives you less power.


Are we a nation with a conscience?
"The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue."
The public has all but forgotten Public Virtue, and has been plagued with apathy for some decades. 

How damaged is our democratic republic that only about 5% of our population choose our candidates? that barely 40% of people vote in midterm elections, and in general elections we're lucky if 60% of voting age citizens do?

Thoreau scolded those,
 "who were more interested in... (fill in the blank)...than humanity; and those who are not prepared to do justice to... (fill in the blank) ...cost what it may."


Can we justly weigh right and wrong?  

"All voting is a kind of gaming with a moral component," a questioning of right and wrong.

It is not a matter of who you like better, it is a matter of protecting justice.


Can your vote matter?

Thoreau lamented that he could not end slavery with his vote.

He said that, "voting for the right is doing nothing for it."

If there weren't such a huge difference between Repubs and Dems, I may agree more with those who choose not to vote, but there is a HUGE difference between them, and one party is much more likely to protect US citizens equally.

He was asking people, a person, any one to raise their consciousness to defeat slavery saying that one good person can leaven a whole bunch. Citizens in Thoreau's time were two steps ahead of us, because they understood responsibility and respect (which, it seems self-evident, are per-requisites to raising ones consciousness).

We have a responsibility, not to a party or a president, but to each other and for ourselves...to protect, at the very least, our system of governance- the best elected officials available; and at the very most, our collective freedom and safety.

We must respect the ideal of freedom and the inherent requirement of equality under the law. At the very least this allows us to fight for our own freedom and equality and at the most it allows us to fight for all others.

Thoreau did not see a pathway to make any difference with his vote...here, we are many steps ahead of Thoreau's time. Since his time, blacks, women and teenagers have all gained the right to vote. More people than ever have an effective tool-our vote- to affect the outcomes of the War on Terror and the growing need for civil equality under the law.

Thoreau says, "don't cast your vote merely..."

and I have the need to say,

"Merely cast a vote!"

Thoreau quotes Confucius in Civil Disobedience, saying,
 "If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame."
Can we reflect on our nation, our culture, and our leaders?

I will add a quote from Confucius,

“By three methods we may learn wisdom:
first, by reflection which is noblest;
second, by imitation, which is the easiest;
and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”


The grand opportunity everyone has on Nov. 4th is to:

Do the very least- vote
To ensure the very most -equality and justice for all.

"The progress from tyranny to democracy is the porgress toward true respect for the individual."

We are always working toward a more perfect union, where all men and women are treated justly with respect.

Do not be, "biased by obstinancy," but, "do only what belongs (to you) and to the hour."

Vote!

 

 

"It is truly enough said that a corporation State has no conscience; but a corporation State of conscientious men is a corporation State with a conscience" 

 

 

Make a great day...and get ready to VOTE!
-Kathryn 






















Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reflecting on Civil Disobedience

I recently posted an article with 50 reasons to vote,
#21-“A wise man will not leave what is right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” – Thoreau
Boy did I get it for that one.
"# 18. “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” - Abraham Lincoln"
 They are both pretty ironic.  ...how bout
"# 39. To ensure representatives who are:
“…the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” – James Madison, Federalist #10"
There is a tragic sense of irony when comparing our current state of patriotism and values to that of the people who were high on the sense of accomplishment that came by freeing themselves.

If we had to, could we free ourselves now?

Do you have the constitution to stand up for those who suffer injustice?

Would we have the sense to ponder the right questions and act on the right answers?

Let us take another look at Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and critique it, a bit from his own time, but mainly from our present culture. 

First, Thoreau's objects of political discontent were aimed mainly at slavery and the US/Mexican War, which he saw as an oppressive occupation.

At first glance do we have situations to compare this to?  I argue that we can still see the specter of slavery as racism, and that the specter of imperialism that haunts us can be seen in SAP's (structural adjustment policies attached to IMF and WB loan programs), a pattern of regime change as a foreign policy and our dogmatic loyalty toward the state of Israel.  

His sentiments were this:  

One is a man first, with capabilities of  knowing right from wrong.

People should be made of a sturdy character, able to stand up for 'the right thing.'

If men are moral and just, there is no need for government.

If a government is unjust, it is the duty of people to practice civil disobedience.

Let's take it from the top of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau (1849):  


Thoreau starts with a famous saying,
"Gov't is best which governs least" and takes it to the extreme saying,
"Gov't is best which is not at all."

His meaning is not that we should not have a government, but an idealistic belief that ALL men can exercise a sense of moral justice and righteousness, and when ALL men can do this IN UNISON, under the banner of peace and love, people will need no gov't.

Of course, people don't act this way, and it is unrealistic to imagine such a thing happening.

So, Thoreau explains a line over which we should not cross one another- a limit to freedom that is informed by some innate 'knowing' between right and wrong.

Maybe this is the same thing as Justice Ginsberg saying that freedom and justice are knowing where one's arm ends and another's nose begins; or the same line called injustice, talked about by Simone Weil, that starts the moment someone says, "They are hurting me."

Thoreau posits that sometimes there is an immediate need to voice opposition to some unjust action being robotically, methodologically, taken out by a government- a gov't out of control, acting on autopilot as a function of our republic governance.

Thoreau does not blame this mire on leaders not responding to the will of the people, but rather, on their self-interested actions with which they lead the country.

He blamed the Mexican War on,
"...comparatively few individuals using the standing government as their tool."
Thoreau blames the those who profit from slavery for keeping it alive by abiding by rules that returned slaves to their owners, even if they had escaped to the north.  He blames a self interested faction and the masses who are too easily goaded. 

This point was addressed more than half a century earlier in Madison's Federalist #10, which I quoted in the recent post, On Being a Republic

Madison wrote: ...to prevent tyranny of the masses or factions...

"It may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people."
In any case, the prescription for both is enshrined in 'the people' or even 'a person' who is of free will and free mind to make expectations known and stand up against the immoral actions of their own government- whether caused by mass acceptance or a small faction of people.

There were two main instances Thoreau showed his discontent, or disobedience: by refusing the church tax and the poll tax.

Could you imagine being taxed by the Church today?  In fact there is a growing voice of some citizens calling for the Church TO pay a tax, because they are becoming too involved in government.  The church doesn't tax us today, but they are crossing the lines, arm and arm with the Republican party, between a personal sanctuary and a voice raised for a theocracy. 

Should we pay any allegiance to a political authority claiming their G-d comes before the law? or that just laws can only be deciphered by their G-dOf course not.

New conservatives are increasingly equating their G-d with a singular morality, and accusing those who do not believe in their G-d as, well, you try and make sense of it.

Listen to Thoreau's argument for why the tyranny of his gov't had reached a critical point of inefficiency, which was great and unendurable:

"...when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize.  What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact, that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army."

And he goes on to say,

"There are thousands who are in the opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free-trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both."
 Thoreau delineates the line of resistance again, he says that if a law "requires you to be the agent of injustice to another" then disobey the law, "at once."  His belief being that reform through normal channels is too slow, possibly lasting more than a man's life.

Hear! Hear!

Certainly for those instances in which our government, by habit, or by corruption become the harbinger of injustice, incremental debate CAN take a lifetime, think of the rights of any man or woman, even our country's founders.  How many lifetimes is it taking for minorities to gain the right to vote, or to be treated equally, as our constitution declares is the natural right of men.

In considering the quote from Civil Disobedience, which I included in my 50 reasons to vote,
 #21-“A wise man will not leave what is right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” 
I argue that, though Thoreau is, in context, lamenting the ineffectiveness of a vote in the face of an injustice not affected by the vote, he is not appealing to the people to NOT VOTE, he instead says,
"Cast your whole vote.  Not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence."
Thoreau talks about a vote against slavery not counting until the one who cannot cast it does...well we have already come a long way since the mid 1800's in that regard...the voting rolls are not only propertied white men anymore.

He also laments,
"No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America." 
...but there was one coming...

Those propertied white men fought their own battle to be free, as did slaves, women, and 'others' afterward, all upon the promise of liberty and equality...and the battle continues still.  

next time:  More on voting and civil disobedience.  

Make a great day! 
Kathryn


extra: a tale of racism from my neck of the woods...


and it just so happens, Israel's Netanyahu pulls some more doublespeak propaganda just today
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/06/netanyahu-us-criticism-israeli-settlements-against-american-values/



















 



Monday, September 22, 2014

...on parties

What about parties?

Parties are nowhere in the constitution, and the fear Madison had about small factions is what our current two party system brings us.

Madison envisioned a 'variety' of parties,

"Does (the proposed federal constitution) consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority?"  
President Washington, among others, warned of what is happening now, because of the vengence inherit in 'the spirit of parties':

 "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty."

Ah, the glory of centuries old men...we can't go back, we must go forward.

I think the populace has an inkling of Washington's notion.  Only 25% of the population describe themselves as Republican and only 31% Democrat.  47% of Americans identify themselves as independent.

So, where does this leave our political system, which has been institutionalized within the Republican and Democratic parties?

Parties are set up with local, state and national chapters.  They choose who runs for office, manage and finance campaigns and develop positions and policies that all of the US are forced to choose from.

Why do we use the two party system, even though it is not part of our constitution and even though we were warned of the dangers we now face?

"...because, it works."  Said Ann Lewis, the head of Dems in the 1980s on a panel for Columbia U.  "Because it has been successful." Said another on the panel.

Parties are not in the constitution, but have evolved out of need, said another.

However, all the panel agree that the electoral college, the seemingly arbitrary delegates and electors, institutionalized within parties are cause for worry.  "A disaster waiting to happen?" they are asked...most agree-Yes.

The threat they point to is the ability of parties to control who is selected as candidates apart from public votes, or to decide the outcome of pres. elections apart from public votes.  The only assurance they wont? ...a sense of good ol justice...the hope and faith that delegates and electors will do the right thing.

Are you laughing or crying?

There are independent candidates and third parties.  However, unless the views or members of these parties are co-opted by Dems or Repubs, they don't go very far.

The power structure of our political system definitively lies within political parties, and the structure systemically keeps non-traditional leaders out.  According to Kira Sambonmatsu, the 'old boys club' keeps outsiders out, because those in power support those in their network (i.e. golfing buddies), and push their friends to the top above others.  This old boys club system is in dire need of retirement.

...and maybe it is on its way.

Parties are no longer a need, but a threat, disenfranchising voters and pitting US citizens against each other.

Parties are no longer successful, as more individuals are empowered with the freedom to vote (minorities and women), but choose not to join a party.


Check out the campaign being run by the Independent Voter Project, who seek to bring top two voting to the US, and end partisan primaries. 

Similar electoral reforms have been successful in CA and will be voted on in Oregon in November.

If one considers that only 25% of US citizens identify as Republican and 31% Dem, and then factor in that less than 20% of eligible voters showed up to vote in 2012 primaries (one of the lowest ever)- about 5% of US citizens choose who we are voting for. 

Outliers have been successful in the past.  Most notably, Vermont's Bernie Sanders, Jesse Ventura of Minnesota, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Angus King from Maine (though I can't say I would support this bunch...I had never heard of King before researching this post, but I would not vote for the other three...no way.)

Keep a lookout this year and in coming years for a shift in the way the US votes, and the persuasion of those who are running.

The most touching reason to vote that I've come across lately is- Hope.






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On being a Republic

I have had some people say to me...

"We don't live in a democracy!  We live in a Republic!"  
 Yeah, we live in a Democratic Republic.

"Democratic Republic- a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them." source

But, wouldn't it be better if everyone directly voted on where tax dollars go, new laws, and when to go to war?

No.  No it wouldn't.

Adopting a direct democracy would be akin to governing by polls.  I've ranted about this before

Leaders don't lead through polls...or they shouldn't.

The main reason that we have a republic, as framed by James Madison in the Federalist paper #10: ' to prevent instability, injustice and faction'

"A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts."

1.) To prevent tyranny of the masses or factions.

"It may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people."

2.) a natural organizational factor of having a democracy with over 300,000,000 people.  It is natural to elect representatives.  The process of funneling individual points of views through an elector is to 'refine and enlarge the public view.'

Madison explains how our bicameral congress balances local community interest with regional community interest:

"By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures."

3.)  Individuals are not often afforded the knowledge to make well informed decisions, so we presumably elect those who can make those decisions for us. 

Americans, notoriously, are under educated in political matters.



There are a few assumptions Madison makes, extreme considerations about the threat of tyranny...that is- if tyranny of the masses or tyranny of factions succeed with their
'vicious,' 'unjust,' 'oppressive,' 'prejudiced,' 'corrupt,' 'sinister,' 'wicked,' 'mischievous,' 'passionate,' 'violent,'
schemes, in "which one party may...disregard(ing) the rights of another or the good of the whole." 

His assumptions may have been true in his day, but are these assumptions true today??

1.)  Representatives, chosen by a large number, are checked by the scrutiny of many people, guarding against, 'unworthy candidates' and the 'vicious arts' of politics.

2.)  'People will choose the most attractive merit and established characters.'

3.)  That representatives will be,

"the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations."

4.)  Extending the sphere of representation will lead to more parties.

" Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other."

Next post:  What about Parties?








Monday, August 18, 2014

A Modern Courting Guide

I was going to write about 'Being a Republic' today, but...

Let's talk about something more intrinsic to the happiness and freedom of a human being- Love.

Specifically, how will we talk to our children about love, sex and relationships?


Sometimes I remark that 'hippies ruined everything', generally when referencing our hedonistic culture. 

Now, I know, I know- that the hippie generation made much progress- important progress, like environmental legislation, civil rights for minorities and equality for woman.  (Though, I reserve, there may be a distinction between people who were active in the movements, and who were free riders.)

The sexual revolution was a triumph over biology, letting women schedule or even refrain from having babies.  Very important on so many levels. 

Unfortunately, what was also lost were the protections to human relationships that societal structures like courting upheld.

I have two kids, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl.  I will be teaching them abstinence and courting.  Not The Duggers kind of courting, but a more modern kind... a simple, empowering guide. 

Re-introducing a modern tradition of courting in society might result in stronger, longer friendships, a more civil society and an increase in lovers being matched more harmoniously.

So, what is this courting I am talking about?


1.)  Flirt with a purpose.

Showing interest in someone is a very personal, intimate move.  Flirting indicates a first move.  Once it is made, there is expectation, anxiety and questioning.  Flirting can go somewhere, or nowhere, but either way there will be an intimate process involved. 

The human heart is not something to play games with.  Showing interest carries a heavy responsibility
to be respectful and sensitive about the others integrity and emotions.  In fact, showing respect and care should be a top quality of a mate.   

2.)  Test social compatibility

Once one is committed to moving into a more intimate world with another- it's time to test.  Can the two
have fun and respect each others actions in social settings?
 
Specifically, I will be encouraging my kids to spend group time at places that encourage  interaction and
discussion.  

3.)  Test personal compatibility

If the two can get through a group setting with respect and admiration for the other person, the next step
is one on one time.

Again, I will recommend to my kids to have one on one time in a place that
encourages openness and personal interaction.

Step 3 is where the first kiss might take place.  

If two can get through these first three stages- it's off to the races!  Have fun any way that calls...except...

4.) Sensual contact 
 
The more sensual contact a pair has, the more they are under the spell of powerful chemicals meant to bond a couple.

If step four comes before 1-3, a couple may find themselves battling the confusing 'feelings' of
attachment, while 'knowing' that something just isn't right.

Oh well!  The drugs of sex- serotonin, oxytocin and amphetamines will take care of that little unhappiness.  For how long?  ?????

I have no problem talking to my kids about sex.  I prefer them to be well informed, embarrassment be  damned.   It is the mystery of love, the fairy tale of love, the 'not knowing how to do it' that can be the dark space that our kids jump through when they finally make the decision to have sex.  I want to illuminate that moment for them as much as I can, though there will always be a mystery. 

So what of sensual contact?  I don't believe my kids will refrain from sensuality, so I will offer them guidelines.  Kissing is great!  Kiss kiss kiss!  Making out is fine too.

5.)  Multiple partners

I don't want my kids getting stuck in the emotional trappings of some one's obsession.  I want my kids to feel in control of their bodies, their emotions and their love lives. 

If the guidelines are adhered to above, there will be nothing too engaging to prevent a little love adve;nture with many persons in the same time frame. There is no claim being made.  There is no expectation of sex (which itself seems to lend itself as a contract of bondage). 

Courting is the practice of setting boundaries for oneself and for others in reference to ones self.  

A modern tradition of courting can be the foundation for a community of people who understand freedom through respect, love and individual liberty. 

The pros:

More fooling around, more partners (this I think will be a great motivator)

Self-respect, self-knowledge, practicing self-restraint

Engaging those we connect with the most in a respectful inquiry of deepening friendship- without the destructive process of emotionally and physically divorcing the person after casual sex.
 
Possibly better matched couples through a careful search among thousands of options. 

The con:

Less sex

When to have sex

I don't know!  That's a personal decision.  The guide above gives enough practice in self awareness, that if they are carried through, give me the confidence to allow my kids deal with that moment privately, themselves, as it should be.


 Some advice from the oldest sex therapist.  -"we need connection beyond sex."




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Terror from the Middle East

Let us recap up to 1967 for a sec...

1.) Colonialism is in decline, but not exactly history yet

2.)  Britain tries to recede from the ME, but is still caught up in colonial treasures like the Suez Canal in Egypt and oil interests all over the ME.

3.)  Israels Zionist movement has succeeded in creating a Jewish state, and in 1950 claimed Jerusalem as their capital against the will of other ME actors, and without any diplomatic finessing of the Palestinians who owned and lived on the land. 

4.) Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, many were massacred, and by 1967 all were in refugee, occupation camps or under the discriminating eye of Israeli leaders in the the state of Israel.

Now let us define terrorism:  

"the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives."

Why use terrorism as a tactic?

When people have no way to address grievances, when people are threatened by a larger force that they cannot legitimately fight back against, the only tool is terrorism.

Groups in the ME had no way to protect themselves from a new aggressive neighbor.  Military strengths were not matched, there was no sympathetic ear in the international community, and for Palestinians no legitimate path to address their grievances---this is why they chose terror.

Also, as a people without a state, any violence they create is considered an act of terror.  If the Palestinians would have had a state they could have legally fought against Israeli occupation and defense issues. 

1968...
20 years after a Jewish state is established by the international community and  
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced without representation.  

The first legitimate organization of the Palestinians is created.  The PLO, or Palestinian Liberation Organization vows to fight Israel and purports that Israel is not a legal nation state.

Excerpts from The Palestinian National Charter 1968...

" The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations; particularly the right to self-determination."
"Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland."
 "The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in diaspora (mahajir) constitute - both their organizations and the individuals - one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle."
"The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support."
 "The liberation of Palestine, from a human point of view, will restore to the Palestinian individual his dignity, pride, and freedom. Accordingly the Palestinian Arab people look forward to the support of all those who believe in the dignity of man and his freedom in the world.
1972...   
5 years after Israeli's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights
22 years after Israel declared Jerusalem their own capital- against 
     international agreement and opinion. 
24 years since the state of Israel was declared by the UN
54 years after the Zionist National Congress starting emigrating to Palestine

The terrorist group, Black September, took and killed 11 Israeli hostages at the Munich Olympics.  The act was named 'Iqrit Bir'im' after two Christian villages taken and destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948.

The month of the Black September: The PLO and its factions vs. Jordon 

The group Black September was named after the month of conflict between the PLO, Palestinian factions and Jordon.  The number Palestinian refugees in Jordon was comparable to the number of proper Jordon citizens, and the refugee camps were, in effect, a state within a state.  The PLO was based out of their refugee camps in Jordon.

PLO military operations with Israel threatened Jordan's security (they could not defend themselves against Israeli retaliation), the leadership in Jordan became an enemy of the PLO.

September of 1970 was rife with fighting and death for Jordan and the Palestinians.  Jordon ousted the PLO that year, and they moved to Lebanon.

The presence of Palestinians in Lebanon added to tensions between Christians and non-Christians in the Lebanese civil war and later in 1978 led to conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

In 1981 Egypt's Anwar Sadat, who was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for peace negotiations with Israel, was assassinated.   

Assassinations between Syria and Lebanon have been riddled with tension between support for terrorist organizations that vow to protect the Palestinian  cause (Syria) and those who are moving forward, looking toward the West and ignoring the 'Palestinian refugee problem' (Lebanon). 

Why were Palestinians targeting other ME leaders?

The PLO was created by the Arab League for the purpose of defending Palestine and defeating Zionism.  According the Arab Leagues founding documents all Arab nations including, TransJordon, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria were supposed to back each other against outside interests that threaten independence and sovereignty in the newly created ME states. ME states quickly came to find that fighting with Israel was against their interests, not just because they would have to engage in war with Israel, but because the US, in particular, pressured nations to favor the West instead of their own agreements.

Cowing to extra-national interests outside of the Arab League was against the League's agreement   Many wars, assassinations and terrorist activities can be traced back to this issue of Israel and Palestine.

Such actions whittled away at what could have been a strong economic and cultural alliance.

Reflecting on now and the future

I can't help but wonder what fruits we would have from the Middle East if the specter of colonialism had not continued into the 20th and 21st centuries with the Israel/Palestine conflict.  

The zeal of the forces loyal to the defense of Palestine are at once rooted in a sense of justice and terror.

The road has been long, and the past has been muddied.  As acts of violence are stacked upon acts of violence, it is almost impossible to see a just impetus for the hatred that gushes out of Arab lands for the West and western allies.

Yet we must see.  If we want to tackle the ubiquitous threat of terrorism in the ME, we must see that there has been a grave injustice done to a people- the people of Palestine.

If the Palestinians had garnered support from religious and freedom seeking allies, as they had expected, in the beginning of their struggle, the Palestinian's grievance would have been clear.

However, the persistent ignorance and ignoring of the 'Palestinian problem' has led a people who were prepared to fight for a just cause to a mixture of people who: want to fight for justice; people who can manipulate the cause for power and use violence as a mean of intimidation and coercion; and people who simply kill out of a sense of desperation, helplessness and vengeance.  

The further we get from the truth, the more impossible it is to sort out the trouble with just causes and solutions... once the Palestinians are 'gone', as in, completely subdued into second class citizenship in other countries or killed- the Palestinians will have nothing to gain but vengeance.  They will keep fighting, as the sore that has been ripped in their histories, their families, their dignity and their souls burns and burns for generations to come.

If the world cannot address the 'Palestinian problem' while there is still a just solution (recognition of crimes, reparations, an international Jerusalem and sovereign Palestinian state)...how will we quell the system of terrorism the 'Palestinian problem' has spawned? 

As bad, the example we set in not condemning the illiberal actions of our greatest ally, Israel, is....well, an illiberal one...as in we give credence to militarism, might makes right, and the subjugation of 'others' for the special privileges of the elite.

Also, we have followed suit in violating international law, with our unilateral, pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003, and the surge of illiberal policies (especially the Patriot Act) and attitudes (anti-civil rights/theocratic) that flowed from US government and progressive movement of conservatives to the right after 9-11.

Is there a point of no return on the ME and the US?  When will it be too late to change course onto a new path of reflection and mediation of  future civic and civil disasters?



Next week:  On being a Republic

Make a great day.
Kathryn

Interesting articles I came across:

Interview with Saudi ambassador Bandar Bin Sultan about Bin Laden and 9-11

Story of Iqrit and Bi'rim citizens still looking forward to returning home.